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Plutonium's Behavior in Aqueous Environments


Study of Plutonium’s Electrochemistry and Dissolving in Different Aqueous Environments

Tech Area / Field

  • CHE-ANL/Analytical Chemistry/Chemistry
  • ENV-WPC/Water Pollution and Control/Environment

3 Approved without Funding

Registration date

Leading Institute
VNIIEF, Russia, N. Novgorod reg., Sarov


  • Los Alamos National Laboratory, USA, NM, Los-Alamos

Project summary

Goal of the project is to study electrochemical behavior of plutonium and its dissolution in aqueous media.

Although highly radiotoxic, isotopes of plutonium 238, 239, 240, 242 and 244 are widely used in various branches of science and technology, for instance, in reference device engineering, as power sources (in space exploration), in medicine, etc. Such isotopes pile up in spent nuclear fuel (SNF) of nuclear power plants, marine nuclear power facilities, etc. Operation of plutonium-involving facilities inevitably implies transportation, storage and potential accidents.

In this regard, for plutonium, there is probability to get into aqueous media, including chloride-containing ones, for example, seawater.
In terms of its corrosion behavior, particularly in aqueous media, plutonium remains practically unexplored, despite the ongoing (for more than fifty years) utilization of this material. However, given the present-day requirements, especially as applied to the environmental protection and efficient management, this behavior uncertainty of radiation-hazardous and toxic plutonium is simply inadmissible.
Researches to be carried out under the Project will enable us to obtain missing data and specify the existing ones on electrochemical behavior of plutonium, its dissolution and corrosion in various aqueous media, including chloride-containing ones.

The following tasks are to be fulfilled under the Project:
- To study plutonium intrinsic corrosion mechanism in aqueous media;
- To study plutonium corrosion mechanism depending on the corroding system composition and aqueous medium;
- To determine plutonium physical and chemical existence forms and corrosion evolution.

As for basic research, the Project results will allow us to considerably extend the knowledge on plutonium electrochemistry and to supplement appreciably the database on plutonium corrosion properties, which are insufficient today.

As for the applied level, the results of the above studies will find their application
- in the field of environmental protection and efficient use;
- to simulate the process of plutonium diffusion in aqueous media in cases of its release;
- for taking opportune and reasoned actions to prevent and minimize plutonium fracture and damage to the environments.

The Project goals and objectives have been discussed before with scientists from LANL, USA and have found support and approval. The Project includes collaboration with LANL experts in the form of information exchange, technical reports comments, joint workshops holding, etc.


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